Future Tense

Will Your Universal Basic Income Check Soon Be in the Mail?

A Future Tense event.

Switzerland set a Guinness Record for the world’s largest poster on May, seeking to rally support for the controversial idea ahead of a referendum next month.
FABRICE COFFRINI/Getty Images

What if every month, every American received a direct deposit of thousands of dollars from the government, with no strings attached?

That’s the idea behind universal basic income, a growing and fiercely debated movement to give every citizen a stipend for living. It’s a concept that’s attracted a diverse following: Silicon Valley tech titans, libertarians, socialists, economists, and governments across continents have all voiced interest in different forms of this unconditional cash. Some tout it as a simple way to give citizens a floor to stand on in tumultuous times, others as our long-sought dividend for living in a time when technology will free most of us from labor.

But could UBI ever take off in the United States, considering how much our cultural ethos is wrapped up in the idea of “earning a living” and how much of our individual sense of worth is tied to our labor?

At noon on Sept. 12, Future Tense will host an event in Washington to discuss whether UBI is, or should be, in your future, whether as a supplement or substitute to wages. Our speakers will be Annie Lowrey, author of Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World and a contributing editor at the Atlantic; Susanna Groves, senior budget analyst for the Council of the District of Columbia; *Sebastian Johnson, writer and philanthropic strategist ; and Luke Tate, assistant vice president and executive director of opportunity initiatives at Arizona State University’s Office of the President.*

The event will be held at the ASU Barrett & O’Connor Washington Center, and lunch will be provided. You can follow along on Twitter with #UBI_FT.

For more information and to RSVP, visit the New America website.

*Correction, Sept. 7, 2018: This post originally misspelled Annie Lowrey’s last name.

*Update, Sept. 10, 2018: This post was updated to include an additional speaker, Sebastian Johnson.